Hiroshima Memorial Dome
While I was in Japan in 2002 I wasn’t sure whether I’d get the chance to return, so I promised myself that I would do a few things before I left the country’s shores. One of these things was to visit Hiroshima, and it was a trip that brought a great many things into perspective for me.
The trip to Hiroshima from Nagoya was quite an adventure on its own merits, since I had decided to save money and take local trains between the two cities. I had scheduled a three day visit to the city, and spent most of the daylight hours on the first day meandering through random and in some cases seemingly abandoned train stations, using my minute knowledge of kanji to try to deduce where and when I was supposed to change trains. In a couple of cases I wound up heading back in the direction I had come from, but in the end, as the sun began to sink behind the horizon, I stepped triumphantly off the train and looked around the streets of Hiroshima, taking a moment to open my senses to everything the city had to offer.
I’d read about a ryokan in my Lonely Planet guide and a short tram ride later I was set up with a room for the next two nights. Given the late-ish hour I decided to take an easy stroll around the local area, find myself a meal and then rest up for an early start in the morning. After a wander through the streets and laneways and finding a tasty meal, I showered and relaxed for the night. Naturally I was still restless, so I flicked on the TV and surfed the channels for a while. Forevermore, “The Sandkings” will remind me of this trip. Being a person who often makes connections between seemingly (and quite possibly actually) irrelevant and unrelated things – believing in the possibilities of forces other than us at work in the universe; I have pondered the fact that I saw this particular episode while I was in Hiroshima, given the underlying theme of the story and the historical significance of my location and the events that occurred there. Particularly given the pursuits of science and the result – as so decisively noted in the episode’s final narration – “Increasingly, modern science pursues powers traditionally reserved for the Almighty. But those who encroach upon the province of the gods realize too late that the price for entrance… is destruction.”
Although, it could just be my overactive imagination at work there.
The next morning I rose early and made my way to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. For me personally it was quite an emotional thing, stepping onto that soil. Having learnt about the bombing of Hiroshima during high school, and combined with my naturally empathic personality, entering the site on which approximately 80,000 lives were taken within seconds was quite an emotionally charged event for me. As I stepped onto the fresh, green grass of the park, taking in the beautiful dedications to Peace and knowing the great loss suffered here actually made me stumble for a minute. My breathing faltered and I was quite overcome.Gathering myself, I breathed deeply and began walking the grounds, taking in the numerous tributes to both the historic event and the hopeful wishes for a peaceful future.
All we need is a bit of Peace
I missed the Peace Memorial Museum itself simply because I strolled through the park for such a long time. The park is enormous, there is so much to see there! Strings of cranes and mosaics made by school students and adults alike, statues and murals dedicated to peace were scattered throughout the grounds. The A-Bomb Dome was quite a sight to behold, being the only structure that survived destructive impact of the bomb. It has been preserved and maintained and stands as a Heritage site and thundering reminder of the atrocity. Even at night, the park and the dome are just amazing to behold.
I continued my walk through the park, crossing the river that flows through the city and the park and just taking in the sights at a leisurely pace. Determined to honour the memories of those who were lost here, I made a decision to myself to remember always that understanding and compassion were much better approaches to people than anything else. Displays of power lost all their meaning to me, seeing how tragically things could end. I’m not strictly talking about violence towards others either. Simply not taking the time to try to understand someone else’s perspective can ruin a relationship and possibly a life as easily as a phisyical or verbal assault. If I am never perceived as being the top dog in my life I will not be dissatisfied.
To everyone I know and even to those I do not, I hope only that they will live a peaceful and blessed life. While we all endure hardship, there is much to be gained from the simple and small things that bring happiness to our lives. By understanding each other, we can not only appreciate others, but we can appreciate ourselves.
If you're ever in Hiroshima, stop by and sound the bell.